Photo Credit: Food Allergy Jams
In 2012 I decided to start this blog, really as a way to put the thoughts, fears, and frustrations that come with being a food allergy parent in writing. Mason's milk allergy was diagnosed in 2009 so it wasn't new to us. I remember wishing there had been resources available to me when that original diagnosis came. Looking back now, there were many resources out there, I just didn't have any idea where to look for them. I had no idea that a community of food allergy advocates existed, let alone how large and tight-knit the community was.
In my first year of blogging, I stumbled across the first Food Allergy Bloggers Conference planned for the fall. It sounded interesting so I put it on my calendar. During the next several months, I discovered a handful of food allergy bloggers and began following them on social media. Once I attended the first FABlogCon event in 2013, I was amazed to meet so many wonderful, like-minded individuals. We may have all in varying stages of this life: from early diagnosis to seasoned pros, from dealing with multiple food allergies to just one, but it didn't matter. It was a room full of people who just "clicked."
I find that as a parent to a child with a life-threatening food allergy, it is easy to feel isolated and alone. Sure there are support groups available in some areas, and in my case, my family is a huge support. Although I don't wish food allergies on anyone, in many ways I am thankful that my sister and sister-in-law and I have each other to lean on. We all have children with life-threatening allergies (which makes family gatherings safe and less stressful!) and we know we have each other.
But there are still everyday frustrations that come along with the diagnosis even if you have support. I live in a small community where there are not a lot of children with food allergies. Navigating the school system was new to me and it is hard to not feel self-conscious about being "that mom" who has to discuss a plethora of accommodations for her child. Even with understanding and wonderful individuals who help to keep my son safe, I would love to not have the daily worries that come along with it.
I had the privilege of attending the third annual FABlogCon this past weekend. I found myself getting so excited the week leading up to the event, not just because of the wealth of knowledge shared, or the incredible swag from the sponsors, but because I was getting to see so many of my friends! Some of us may have met in person before, others may have just emailed or communicated through social media. Because we are all dealing with similar aspects of this food allergy lifestyle, we have gotten to know each other and our families.
In three years of blogging, I have learned so many valuable things when it comes to educating, advocating, and spreading awareness of food allergies, but the most valuable things I've gained are the friendships built along this journey.